commentary, philosophy, and outright rants

Archive for the ‘Politicians’ Category

Open letter to my congressman about the phlegm flute

After viewing the video about the Phlegm Flute, and seeing on the manufacturer’s site that the FDA currently bars its sale in the land of the free and the home of widespread, money-making drugs for COPD, pneumonia, and other things that must be protected so healthcare costs can be uncontained, I wrote the following to my Congressman, Rep. Chris Smith (R-4-NJ). (The first paragraph refers to the efforts he put in to restore Sean Goldman to his father, David Goldman.) Aside from the first paragraph, others may wish to write to their congressmen via http://www.house.gov .

First, I’d like to congratulate you on your handling of the Goldman case and getting that child back in the US. Great job.

As you know, there are several influenza virii circulating, as well as the usual colds, etc. There is a device – non electrical, not a drug, just a tube that helps vibrate the chest – called the lung flute. You can see a video of it at http://bit.ly/1ThBbf . However, the company that makes the device says on their site at http://bit.ly/4yaHGI that although non-Americans can obtain it, the FDA is blocking it and will make it available only by prescription. I see no reason why a non-intrusive (except for blowing into a tube) device, which has had excellent results in other countries, should be withheld from Americans by a hyperactive bureaucrat at the FDA. I generally lose 5-10 days work time per year to upper respiratory infections – luckily I get sick time at my job – and my mother has COPD. Two close friends have severe pneumonia, and have to take steroids which are themselves proven dangerous with side effects – but are the only things stronger than Robitussin/Mucinex available.

Please consult with your colleagues and with the FDA to make this device available to Americans immediately. Considering the amount of money spent on antibiotics, steroids, and guafenesin – not to mention lost productivity – this is a simple health plan that doesn’t need thousands of pages in the Congress, but simply reining in the FDA. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

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The Individual Freedom Reclamation Amendment

Thinking about how religious people in the US, from diverse traditions, can reclaim our Nation from corporate control, led to a search of Catholic encyclicals.  One thing that keeps popping up in Catholic social justice – identical to things I have heard from many fellow Witches – is the dignity of the human person.  Although not widely known,  several encyclicals starting with Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum make it clear that the Roman Catholic Church opposes US-style capitalism just as much as it opposes socialism. In fact, it opposes any economic or political system which violates the dignity of the human person.  Given that many Baptist and Evangelical churches were deeply involved in the civil rights movement, I would think that many Protestants share this belief as well.

As the current pope has put it:

“the market has prompted new forms of competition between States as they seek to attract foreign businesses to set up production centres, by means of a variety of instruments, including favourable fiscal regimes and deregulation of the labour market. These processes have led to a downsizing of social security systems as the price to be paid for seeking greater competitive advantage in the global market, with consequent grave danger for the rights of workers, for fundamental human rights and for the solidarity associated with the traditional forms of the social State.” – Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate

One problem in the Western world is that corporations – in legalese, “non-natural persons” – are recognized as persons by the legal system. This enables large amounts of capital to be used in ways no human person could muster: to control media, depress wages, and eliminate the “social security” net (not speaking solely of the US agency called “Social Security”.)

To restore the dignity of the human person as superior to capital – as is the belief of many Pagans, as well as many Christians – I think the following Amendment to the US Constitution might be appropriate:

ARTICLE (?).
1. No Right, stated in this Constitution, shall apply to persons other than Natural Persons, unless specifically granted to persons other than Natural Persons.

2. Section 1 of this Amendment shall not apply to the Powers of Congress as enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of this Constitution.

3. For the purposes of this Constitution, and all laws and regulations made subject to it, the phrase “limited Times” or other like phrases shall be construed as one-third of the average lifespan of a Natural Person citizen of the United States. Said lifespan shall be calculated on a decennial basis by the Social Security Administration or successor agencies; if said agencies cease to exist the national Census shall be modified to determine said lifespan.

4. Sections 1- 3 of this Amendment are curative and shall apply immediately to all treaties, laws, and court decisions now standing.

Quote updates 12/9

Bill Schneider:
“An Obama job approval rating of 79 percent — that’s the sort of rating you see when the public rallies around a leader after a national disaster. To many Americans, the Bush administration was a national disaster.”
http://http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/12/09/Obama.poll/index.html

Honorable William O. Douglas, U.S.S.C. (1898-1980):
“We must realize that today’s Establishment is the new George III. Whether it will continue to adhere to his tactics, we do not know. If it does, the redress, honored in tradition, is also revolution.”
http://www.oyez.org/justices/william_o_douglas/

Sandra Lee Dennis:
“We begin to resacralize sexuality by acknowledging its shadow side of destruction and death, the dark Eros whose importance we may yet grasp.”
http://www.infibeam.com/Books/info/Sandra-Lee-Dennis/Embrace-of-the-Daimon-The-Ecstatic-Promise/0892540567.html

Senator John McCain (R-AZ):
“Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt, many of those differences remain. These are difficult times for our country, and I pledge to him tonight that I will do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face. I urge all Americans who supported me to join not only in congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and honest effort to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences.”
http://mccain.senate.gov/public/

William Jefferson Clinton:
“We just had the biggest redistribution of income upwards in the last eight years since the 1920s, and we know how the 1920s ended.”
http://www.clintonlibrary.gov/

If the House Republicans don’t believe President Bush anymore…

… when can I expect to see the Republican House members introduce a bill for an immediate and total pullout from Iraq?

Quote Updates 9/22

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT):
“If an institution is too big to fail, then that institution is too big to exist.”
http://sanders.senate.gov/

Walter Kittredge (1863):
“Many are the hearts that are weary tonight, wishing for the war to cease; many are the hearts looking for the right, to see the dawn of peace.”
http://www.merrimackhistory.org/Walter%20Kittredge.htm

Anton Szandor LaVey:
“It’s too bad that stupidity isn’t painful. Ignorance is one thing, but our society thrives increasingly on stupidity. It depends on people going along with whatever they are told. The media promotes a cultivated stupidity as a posture that is not only acceptable but laudable.”
http://www.satanicchurch.com/content/9-sins.aspx

Brendan Cathbad Myers:
“When most pagans think of ethics, they usually think of the Wiccan Rede — a highly utilitarian idea which has nothing to do with virtue. I’d like to change that.”
http://www.wildideas.net/cathbad/

Ken Sanzel:
“Not every story has a point. Sometimes you just bend spaghetti to watch it break.”

Effective online activism

Last week, CNN profiled Leanna Elizalde, a cancer survivor who was basically not being allowed to participate in graduation because she failed to complete a course where the school forgot its responsibility to make reasonable accommodations.

This enraged me… so I went to a social networking site I’m on, wrote an explanation of the problem, and provided links and phone numbers for the school, the school district, the town, the state, and Federal authorities. I also got 3 other people with combined regular readers of about 40,000 to repost what I wrote. I suspect similar things happened across the US, because the school alone was receiving hundreds of calls per day (per news coverage), and by the end of the week, not only did they change the rules and allow her to write an English composition in lieu of the class, but allowed her full participation in the ceremony and gave her a real diploma. Plus, as a bonus, she caught the attention of a cancer survivor’s group that gave her $2500!

Feedback on the site indicated many people called or wrote. Chances are they would not have done so if I hadn’t provided the phone numbers and email links; there’s an 8-second attention span on the ‘net. So if you’re doing activism online, make sure you make it as easy as possible for other people to communicate your message to the appropriate authorities – the easier you make it, the more people who are likely to participate!

Quote Updates 5/18

Horatio, Lord Nelson:
“I am acting not only without the orders of my commander-in-chief, but, in some measure, contrary to him…I am doing what is right and proper for the service of our king and country. Political courage, in an officer abroad, is as highly necessary as military courage.”
http://infomotions.com/etexts/gutenberg/dirs/9/4/947/947.htm

Gregory Norbert:
“When the time of our particular sunset comes our thing, our accomplishment won’t really matter a great deal. But the clarity and care with which we have loved others will speak with vitality of the great gift of life we have been for each other.”

Stan Rogers:
“…For we couldn’t leave her there, you see, to crumble into scale./She’d saved our lives so many times, living through the gale/And the laughing, drunken rats who left her to a sorry grave/They won’t be laughing in another day…/

“And you, to whom adversity has dealt the final blow/With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go/Turn to, and put out all your strength of arm and heart and brain/And like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again

“Rise again, rise again – though your heart it be broken/And life about to end/No matter what you’ve lost, be it a home, a love, a friend./ Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again….”

http://www.stanrogers.net/

Kunal Ghosh:
“That communism is a crypto-religion in line with Judaism and Christianity (both are Abrahamic faiths of West Asian origin) has been alluded to by many great thinkers…Abrahamic religions, whenever they conquer a territory, convert the inhabitants and try to suppress their ancestral culture. Ancestral history becomes a prohibited subject. In Afghanistan and Pakistan pre-Islamic Hindu-Buddhist history is not permitted in schools. China is doing the same in Tibet.”
http://www.mainstreamweekly.net/auteur39.html

debauchette:
“I, and other women like me, object to the assertion that sex work is inherently degrading and that no woman pursues this work or experience by choice. Women do make these choices, and I’m among them. And I have no regrets. My perspective on Sawyer was just that – I was a woman who made a choice.

“This isn’t to say that degrading and dehumanizing sex work doesn’t exist, because it most certainly does. But it does a disservice to everyone when we fail to recognize the differences, the differences in power, autonomy, and freedom.”

http://debauchette.wordpress.com/